The coming week will bring many moments of glory to President Percy Mahinda Rajapaksa. That it will be somewhat similar to those euphoric moments when he won the November 2005 Presidential elections is in no doubt.
It would have almost happened. President Rajapaksa and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were slated to sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries sometime during the SAARC summit at the beginning of next month. Fortunately wiser counsel prevailed, if one might employ a rather weathered phrase.
A few weeks back this column drew attention to the large trade deficit that was accruing and warned that it may reach an excessive figure by the end of this year. The latest trade figures released by the Central Bank confirm this suspicion as the countrycontinues to build up a massive trade deficit. In the first five months of this year the trade deficit reached US$ 2579 million.
While the government got parliamentary approval for a whopping supplementary estimate of Rs 2.8 billion to cover the costs of next week’s SAARC summit in Colombo, it was the appointment of two cabinet ministers to head two of the most important parliamentary committees, the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that raised questions on how committed this government was to accountability and transparency in the management of public funds.
The forced evictions of some three hundred and fifty nine households from Slave Island this week, propelled by this government's desire to exhibit a 'slum-free' atmosphere for the useless extravaganza that is SAARC, is a crime on our collective conscience.
When America's political friends and military allies fall out or refuse to play ball with the White House, their services are summarily terminated. Or Washington tightens the noose around their necks -- metaphorically if not literally.